Vintage Teams: Seattle Pilots
Yes, Major League Baseball existed in Seattle prior to the Mariners. The Emerald City welcomed the MLB and the Seattle Pilots into their fair city as one of four expansion franchises in 1969. But this franchise was short-lived and baseball fans in Seattle now find themselves pulling for the Seattle Mariners, not the Pilots.
What happened? Where did Seattle’s first team end up? Did they roster any famous players? Here’s all you need to know about the history of baseball in the Pacific Northwest and its one-year wonder, the Seattle Pilots.
Where Did They Come From? Where Did They Go?
Former owner of the Cleveland Indians, William Daley, financed the team, but didn’t see a major return on his investment. The Seattle Pilots would only go on to win 64 games, losing 98 games in the process. This would earn the Pilots a last-place finish in the American League West Division, four games behind the Chicago White Sox and 33 games behind the first-place Minnesota Twins.
The team’s logo used a baseball, with the word “Pilots” in the center, surrounded by a red pilot’s wheel and yellow wings. This was in line with the city’s prominence within the aviation community.
Low attendance was a large issue that led to the demise of the franchise. Sick’s Stadium, where the Pilots played, wasn’t an ideal place to play. With the highest ticket prices in the league, at $6 per ticket, and a plumbing system that struggled when crowds surpassed 10,000, maybe the writing was on the wall.
Bud Selig and an ownership group out of Milwaukee would end up swooping in at the conclusion of a disastrous season, bringing baseball back to their city at Seattle’s expense.
Who Were Their Stars?
First baseman Don Mincher recorded 105 hits with 25 home runs and almost 80 runs batted in the Pilots’ only season. This performance would send him to the All-Star Game in 1969 as a representative of the American League. He wouldn’t be the only individual player to make it to the ASG, however; outfielder Mike Hegan also put up some impressive numbers. In under 80 hits, Hegan notched in almost 40 RBIs.
Diego Seguí helped the Pilots from the mound, as he pitched over 140 innings with a 3.35 ERA. He also contributed 12 saves and pitched 113 strikeouts. Gene Brabender, one of the starting pitchers, recorded the most wins of a single pitcher for the Pilots, at 13.
Seattle had a bad first run-in with the MLB, but the Mariners brought joy back into the hearts of the baseball-loving citizens of the Emerald City. Milwaukee also won when the Brewers brought professional baseball back to Brew City.
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